This is a major reorganisation and rethink operation for me, up to now I have spent whatever I felt was needed and wanted, if the boys asked for something I would get it for them and I think this attitude has (against the common idea that it creates spoilt and greedy children) worked well for us as the boys always asked for things they would enjoy and play with/use for a long time, very rarely have they asked for something that was not used, in fact I can't really think of anything... Having the freedom to purchase things has led them to try new foods and games and has not turned them into greedy consumers at all, in fact they seem to be very discerning about what they buy!
But this has had to change as I am now on a budget, so what has changed? And has it been that bad?
- The weekly shopping. We used to pop into Tesco or the farm shop whenever we needed something but I was spending a lot this way. Now I do my weekly shopping online and visit the farm shop just once a week. The boys can still ask to get things but now it all goes on the shopping list. This has cut my spending by half, I feel more organised, we don't have to trawl through the nightmare supermarket and the boys can still pick things our for themselves in the farm shop.
- Outings, as with the shopping we would go out whenever we felt like it. Now we tend to organise a big day out every couple of weeks (we had the Birmingham science museum this week), we have a long list on the wall of places we like or would like to visit, we decide in advance but we also see how everyone feels on the day. This also means packing a picnic instead of having lunch in cafes but it hasn't changed our enjoyment of the day!
- Regular activities. Nothing has really changed here as I know how much everything will cost (things like the home ed group and gymnastics) and have budgeted for it.
- Materials. The boys go through A LOT of arts and crafts materials. Changes I have had to make is save our purchases for a once a month trip to the children's craft shop in nearby Melton Mowbray, it is inexpensive, the materials are good and the boys can pick their own supplies. And for more specialised materials (the boys like to use "proper" arts materials, like acrylics, inks and oil pastels) I also save the purchase for once a month (often every two months) at the Great Art website.
- Making the most of local free facilities. We have always done this but now more so, we very much enjoy all our local museums, parks and playgrounds.
- Making the most of staying at home. I always used to fret that we had to be "doing something" but the autonomous way of life has shown me that creativity, insights and imagination cannot be rushed, they need space to develop. Over the years we have build up a lovely children's collection of books, resources and software for the computer and ipads as well as an extensive list of websites the boys use. They have model railways and toys like lego to play with as well as a large garden and a stream at the bottom of the lane.
- Travel. This is probably the most expensive thing we do, changes have included using the caravan more,staying with relatives and planning in more detail.